I remember being in grade school science class and learning about the greenhouse effect, how it was caused by the releasing of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and that it was causing increases in earth's temperature.
My teachers told us that it was a problem, but wouldn’t go into detail or explain what could happen. They didn’t tell us that the earth’s temperature had been increasing for decades, and no one was doing anything to stop it. They didn’t tell us that the effects of this heating would be extreme and unimaginable.
I learned on my own what the climate crisis was, and that it was one of the greatest threats of my generation.
Lets get two things straight.
One, climate change is real. There is no denying a crisis of this scale, especially not one with overwhelming evidence of its existence. NASA’s website on climate change states that the increase in temperature, sea level rise and extreme weather events are only a few of the effects of a changing climate.
Second, we are in a crisis. We have spent the last several decades downplaying it and feeding into the idiocy that is climate change denial. We cannot afford to ignore it, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a statement in 2018 saying that we have 12 years to mitigate climate change before we reach catastrophe and cannot go back.
Climate change is going to have disastrous effects on Missouri and other parts of the Midwest, many of which we have already seen. In 2019, there was great flooding in the Midwest that affected an estimated 14 million people, and that more water was measured this year than at any time in at least 20 years, according to an article by the New York Times.
Aside from the flooding, there have been increases in extreme heat. More heat means an increase in droughts, which will affect agricultural production in the states. In the U.S., overall precipitation will increase during winter and spring in Northern regions, while during the summer in Central regions, temperatures will rise and cause reductions in soil moisture, which will lead to worse droughts and heatwaves, according to NASA.
The climate crisis is daunting and will require the whole country, and the world, to take action to prevent its effects.
What can we as students of Northwest do? How can we help be a part of the solution to the climate crisis?
Something we can do is face the truth and properly educate ourselves about the crisis.
NASA’s website about climate change is full of evidence and information about the crisis. It is intimidating at first and includes scientific jargon that most of us, myself included, find confusing. But we have to start somewhere with educating ourselves.
However, self-education can only go so far. We needed to have learned about this crisis in the beginning when we had more time, not so far into the future that time is running out. We should have learned about its effects earlier in our educational careers.
There is no requirement to teach climate change in K-12 schools or high schools in Missouri, according to an article by KCUR. However, in K-12 schools, it is only required to be taught in environmental or earth science classes. There are also no standards to teach climate change in colleges.
I reached out to a few departments at Northwest and was unable to confirm if climate change was taught at all at Northwest.
Why is it that education over one of the greatest crises of my generation is almost nonexistent?
I’m disappointed that Northwest is unable to provide a clear standard on teaching the truth about the environmental crisis to students. There are a few professors who highlight the importance of climate change, but a few teaching talking about it isn’t enough. Everyone must be educated about climate change.
College students cannot be expected to learn about this crisis solely by themselves. Professors need to be there to assist students through research and teach us how to properly learn about climate change, or else we risk becoming misinformed.
However, it must be carefully taught. We cannot give a voice to climate denialism because it will continue to spread lies and misinformation about the crisis. We must tell the truth through science.
One of Northwest’s core values is getting students “career ready day one,” and preparing us to be successful in our futures. College students are told that they are the next generation that will change the world.
How can I change the world if my school won’t even teach about the things that threaten my future?